Thursday, September 9, 2010

Continuing creation.

In a recent conversation with my friend Michael I found myself saying that all the massive churches that mean so much as concrete symbols of faith are really artifacts of creative thought. The vital union with the Maker was while the architect, builders, sculptors and so on were actually dreaming up, making, the expression that people walk and pray in. Today we experience these things second hand, the translation into human terms, and that requires a bigger leap of belief than that of the original designers who were experiencing the act of creation directly.

This intuition of mine would take in all the centuries of thought as well, all the writing, the lives lived as lights for us to follow, the foundation of example upon which we too must build. And the building is important for each generation to continue or else flames dwindle into ashes and ashes become hollow structures of bygone times. The making of new thought is the vital part even as it necessarily tears apart the old to build the new.


Ernst Göran Westlund said...

Your thoughts here reminds me of the Swedish church. It is one of the early Lutheran churches, enabled by the Swedish king Gustav Vasa, the real founder of the Swedish state as we know it today. He started the process to break the Swedish church free from the pope, and completed this process the by year 1530, when he started to appoint bishops himself, including the Swedish archbishop. Before that, much of the immeasurable wealth of the church had been confiscated. The church became part of the state, and continued to be so until 2001.

The Swedish church officially became a Lutheran church in 1593. Today it is the biggest member of the Lutheran World Federation, with 6.9 million members.

In old times, membership in the Swedish church was mandatory for all swedes. Today it is voluntary, and the church loses about 1 percent of its members every year. But the Swedish countryside and cities are littered with church buildings, many of which are very old. The available space for worship probably far outweighs the needs. The state still subsidizes the care of some of the most valuable church buildings, which are considered part of a national heritage. But in the long run, the church has to finance its buildings and the maintenance of them with their own money. Much of the burden falls on the parishes, which cannot afford to keep all their buildings. And so, some of them are sold, some are simply teared down.

Still the Swedish church plays an important roll as a place for worship as well as for social fellowship. But to my opinion it is in kind of a crisis, searching for its role in a new, secular environment. Will it survive as an important player in the Swedish culture, or be marginalized as a group of believers among others, while the Catholic church slowly gain terrain, much thanks to the immigration? That remains to be seen.

Bill said...

So, thanks for your thoughtful comment, placing a real situation beside my theoretical one. I would think that the struggle within Swedish society to find new meaning within or without the church and its buildings ( and a sense of continuity with the past is so important)is part of the creative renewal I was suggesting was more central to the spirit than a clinging to the external trappings, to much of which actually dulls the creative spirit.